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The temporomandibular joint is a pivot that connects your jaw to your skull's temporal bones, which are located in the front of each ear. You can speak, chew, and yawn by using it to move your jaw up, down, and side to side. Temporomandibular disorders are a set of more than 30 conditions that induce pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that regulate jaw movement.

TMDs are issues with the muscles in your face that regulate your jaw. The temporomandibular disorder may be caused by any issue that hinders the intricate system of muscles, bones, and joints from functioning in harmony.

Causes of TMD

TMDs’ root cause is unclear. Dentists are of the popular opinion that the symptoms are caused by issues with your jaw muscles or the actual joint elements. Additionally, TMDs can result from harm to your jaw, the joint, or the muscles in your head and neck, such as from a severe impact or whiplash. Additional factors include:

  • Putting a lot of pressure on the joint by clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Movement of the soft disc or cushion between the joint's ball and socket
  • Various kinds of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Stress that can lead you to clench your teeth or tense your face and jaw muscles


TMD typically results in extreme pain and discomfort. It could be temporary or persist for a long time. Your face may be affected on either one or both sides. It usually affects people between the ages of 20 and 40 years, and more women than men suffer from TMDs.

Typical signs include:

  • When you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide, you may experience pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck, shoulders, and in or around the ear.
  • Having difficulty opening your mouth wide.
  • Jaws that seem to get "stuck" or "lock" in the open and closed or closed-mouth position.
  • When you open or close your mouth or chew, the jaw joint may make clicking, popping, or grinding noises. It may or may not hurt.
  • A sudden unpleasant bite or difficulty chewing may indicate that the upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly.
  • Face swelling.

Additionally, you can experience ringing in the ears, toothaches, headaches, neck discomfort, dizziness, earaches, hearing issues, and upper shoulder pain.


Several other conditions, such as dental decay, sinus difficulties, arthritis, or gum disease, cause identical symptoms. Thus, to accurately determine TMDs, your dentist will ask you questions about your medical history and perform a physical examination to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms.

The dentist will check for clicks, pops, or grating sounds as you move your jaw joints and feel for any pain or tenderness. Additionally, the process will make sure that your jaw moves freely and does not lock when you open or close it. The exam will also assess your bite and look for any issues with your face muscles.

To rule out other issues, your dentist may take complete face X-rays to examine your teeth, temporomandibular joints, and jaws. The MRI can determine whether the TMJ disc is in the appropriate position while your jaw moves, while bone details of the joint can be seen on a CT scan.

For additional care and treatment, you may be referred to an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon is an expert in procedures involving the entire face, mouth, and jaw. To make sure your teeth, muscles, and joints function as they should, you might also visit an orthodontist.


The signs of TMDs might often go away on their own. If your symptoms don't go away, your doctor might suggest a number of treatments, frequently more than one to be carried out simultaneously.

Medications - These nonsurgical alternatives, along with other nonsurgical treatments, may help ease the pain associated with such disorders:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers - Your doctor or dentist may recommend stronger painkillers for a short period of time, if over-the-counter painkillers are ineffective in treating your symptoms.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants - In modest doses, certain drugs are occasionally used for pain relief, controlling bruxism, and treating sleeplessness.
  • Muscle relaxants - These medications may be taken for a few days or weeks to help with pain relief from the issues brought on by muscle spasms.


Non-drug treatment methods for TMDs:

Mouth Guards or Oral Splints (occlusal appliances) - Many times, wearing a hard or soft device implanted over the teeth will help persons with jaw pain.

Physical Treatment - Treatments may involve ultrasound, moist heat, and ice, along with exercises to stretch and strengthen jaw muscles.

Surgical or other methods

Arthrocentesis - A minimally invasive treatment called arthrocentesis involves inserting tiny needles into the joint in order to irrigate fluid into the joint to flush out debris and inflammatory byproducts.

Injections - Injections of corticosteroids into the joint may be beneficial in certain people.

Arthroscopy - In some instances, arthroscopic surgery can be just as successful as open joint surgery.

Modified condylotomy - A surgical procedure that indirectly treats TMDs by operating on the mandible rather than the joint itself. If you feel jaw locking or need pain relief, it might be useful.

Open-joint surgery - Your dentist or doctor may advise open joint surgery (arthrotomy) to replace or repair the joint, if your jaw pain does not go away after trying more conservative procedures. However, after weighing the advantages and disadvantages, open-joint surgery should be carefully examined because it carries more risks than other operations.

Ask your doctor about all of your alternatives and make sure you explore the potential advantages and risks if surgery or other procedures are recommended.


Jaw pain might not appear serious, particularly if it is intermittent. TMDs, however, can substantially impair daily activities like speaking, chewing, and biting, if left untreated. Call your doctor to set up an appointment if you believe you may be experiencing such problems. With prompt treatment, you can manage the condition and enhance your overall quality of life.


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